New York


Facts About 1920s New York

  • 106,521,537 people in the United States
  • 2,132,000 unemployed, Unemployment 5.2%
  • Life expectancy:  Male 53.6,   Female 54.6
  • 343.000 in military (down from 1,172,601 in 1919)
  • Average annual earnings $1236;  Teacher's salary  $970
  • Dow Jones High 100  Low 67 
  • Illiteracy rate reached a new low of 6% of the population. 
  • Gangland crime included murder, swindles, racketeering
  • It took 13 days to reach California from New York
  • There were 387,000 miles of paved road.

Manhattan Island

Events and People

Thanks to Henry Ford and mass production, one could buy a ford for $290.  The Volstead Act became effective Jan 16, 1920 and made the sale of a drink containing as much as one half-ounce of alcohol unlawful. This one unsuccessful act brought about much of the flavor of the Jazz Age or Roaring Twenties as we know them. This was a period of prohibition and intolerance, speakeasies, flappers, gangsters, and crime. Hootch was supplied by Dutch Schultz and Al Capone.  The Nineteenth Amendment had passed the previous year allowing women the right to vote in national elections.  At the beginning of the decade the US was paralyzed by the grip of the red scare . Racial tensions were high and quotas were set for immigrants coming into America. The Klan was very active during this period. The decade was a wonderful one for all of the arts and literature in America. Technology grew – the country shrunk – as popularity of automobiles, radios, and movies exploded. Buying on credit or installments was an outcome of the industrial age.  How could anything ever go wrong?

Recent Presidents
  • 1913-1920 Woodrow Wilson
  • 1921-1923 Warren G. Harding
  • 1923-1928 Calvin Coolidge

Fads and slang of the day:
  • A period of slang: slang used for "girls or women":  a broad, a bunny, a canary (well, one who could sing), a charity girl (one who was sexually promiscuous), a dame, a doll, cat's meow, cat's whiskers
  • Games included mah-jngg, ouija boards, and crossword puzzles
  • Endurance races of all sorts gained popularity and included  Marathons and flagpole sittingDance marathons – began in 1923 and really became the rage.
  • Harry Houdini was the great escape of the 1920s.
  • American Baseball!  and other sports were very popular.
  • Miss America contest began in Atlantic City in 1921. Margaret Gorman (16 years old) was the first winner with measurements of 30-25-32
  • Dance crazes included the Charleston,  the Black Bottom, and the Shimmy.
  • Dining at Sardi's.

New York

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